VR health appears to be like superb however there’s nonetheless one large downside
For those of you who haven’t kept your eyes on technical news, Computex was last week. This is the technology fair held every year in Taipei, Taiwan and is usually dominated by new graphics cards, processors (including a Qualcomm for wearables), and the personal computers that house the next generation of chips and components.
This year VR made its mark, which perhaps isn’t really a surprise given that the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are a bit easier to come by. When I watched the show from afar there were two demos that really caught my eye. The first was the Cooler Master’s VR parachute experience and the other was Holodia’s VR rowing machine.
With an HTC Vive connected to a PC and a user sitting on a Concept 2 rowing machine, Holodia’s Rig was able to transport you to far more exotic places to exercise.
For years, companies have tried their best to break the monotony of sitting on a stationary bike or treadmill while staring at yourself in the mirror, or desperately trying to avoid eye contact with neighboring calorie haters. We’ve seen tons of simulators and virtual trainers, but with VR it really seems like the solution to get out of this practice slump.
Make way for the Icaros flight simulator
I had my first experience with the connection between VR and movement a few years ago with the Virtuix Omni VR treadmill. It was a setup where I stood on a small circular treadmill, held a plastic gun, and was transported to an FPS battlefield. Everything about it felt awkward, unnatural, and personally not right.
Setups like the one from Holodia or the VirZoom VR exercise bike controller or the frankly ridiculous looking Icaros flight simulator (see image above) make a little more sense. They feel like the natural progression of simulators struggling to grasp the idea of taking you from your everyday place and transferring you to another.
But there are some pretty big problems here. Head over to Holodia’s website for the nearly £ 10,000 VR rig and you’d think they magically managed to solve one of VR’s biggest problems. the cables. Holodia’s solution is to lift the cables up, which is sure to suit those who have the ability and space to mount it that way. But combined with the price, that’s a very small customer base.
Then there is the headset. Selfie tennis on the Vive is the closest thing to the workout I played Wii tennis with. And it doesn’t take long for things to get hot and sticky under the headset. I just wave my arms to serve. The idea of wearing something this bulky while you’re doing a workout doesn’t sound particularly appealing to me. We may have to hit the LG 360 VR’s design and form factor before I’m really comfortable.
And where do you put it? Expensive facilities like Holodia are reserved for those with enough disposable income to upgrade their “dumb” fitness equipment. The future for the rest will surely lie in gyms. I recently visited a Virgin Active gym that has dedicated altitude training rooms. I can think of a similar solution for VR.
I guess this is very early on for VR and companies are looking into what is possible with the hardware. The idea of being able to test a route across the other side of the world without leaving my home or gym is definitely attractive. It can be a while before I try a system that won’t make me tear off the headsets and harnesses before I even start.